An Homage to NCAA Football: Big Ten Pipeline States

Growing up the Fourth of July meant my favorite holiday was less than two weeks away: the release of the next edition of NCAA football. For over ten years of my life, that Tuesday was my favorite day of the year. It usually took me less than 24 hours to lead Nebraska back to a National Championship. July 9, 2013 was the last day I experienced this joy. When fall camp starts, I will plug my Xbox 360 in, look for a new roster file to download, and play a few seasons bringing Nebraska back to contending status. My favorite part of NCAA Football was recruiting. I loved the feel of gaining a new pipeline state and stealing recruits from the local teams. In honor of NCAA Football, I want to take a real life look at the pipeline states for the schools around the Big Ten.

So, how do I define a pipeline state? If a team has over 5% of their 2019 roster from a single state, it’s a pipeline state for that school. I chose 5% as it caused most schools in the Big Ten to have around four pipeline states like in NCAA Football. Every school claims their home state as a pipeline state.


Illinois football claims the three recruiting strongholds as pipeline states: California, Florida, and Texas. Illinois is the only school in the Big Ten that claims California as a pipeline state. Illinois also has the largest percentage of players from Florida with 21%.


The Hoosiers have six pipeline states claiming the neighboring states, Illinois and Ohio, adding SEC territory states Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Indiana is the only school to claim Tennessee as pipeline state in the Big Ten.


Iowa’s pipeline states are all within the footprint of the conference. Iowa has the fourth highest proportion of players from its own state with 45% of the roster native Hawkeyes.


The Terrapins roster is dominated by the east coast. Florida is the Westernmost pipeline state for Mike Locksley’s squad.


The Maize and Blue have four pipeline states across the country. They do come in second in their own state with 36% of their players from within state compared to 44% for Michigan State.

Michigan State

The Spartans claim Illinois and Ohio within the conference as well as Georgia outside the conference along with its own state as its pipelines. Michigan State is the second biggest home to Ohio players trailing only the Buckeyes.


Gopher football ties Purdue for the largest number of pipeline states with seven. Only 31% of the players on the roster are from Minnesota, second lowest in the conference.


Scott Frost’s team ties Ohio State for the fewest pipeline states with three. Only Nebraska claims itself as a pipeline state. Only Nebraska, Ohio State, and Illinois have no pipeline state other than their own within the conference.


The Wildcats have four pipeline states including the largest proportion of their roster from Texas with 14%. Northwestern also has the smallest percentage from its home state with only 15.8%. An additional 15% of the roster comes from Ohio.

Ohio State

Ohio State only has three pipeline states for 2019. The Buckeye’s roster is composed of over 52% of guys from the state of Ohio good for second in the conference.

Penn State

Penn State’s pipeline states are all geographically very close. Only Virginia does not border the state of Pennsylvania.


Purdue is tied for the most pipeline states with seven. Surrounding states Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky make up three of the states. Georgia, Florida, and Texas make up the pipeline states further away from Indiana.


Rutgers, like Penn State, has a very regionalized pipeline states network. Rutgers has the largest percentage of in-state players with 56% hailing from the state of New Jersey.


The Badgers pipeline is mostly local with Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio. It reaches out of the Big Ten region with the state of Texas.

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